While I really miss being able to travel to new and faraway places, I, like many of you, don’t feel quite comfortable with the concept just yet. While the COVID-19 pandemic may be forcing my body to stay home, my mind, and my taste buds are not under lockdown. With that in mind, I have discovered one creative way to satiate my travel craving: by exploring wines from around the world. This time, I’m taking you with me on a getaway to Bourgogne, France through 2 of that region’s wonderful wines.
So why should we be travelling to Bourgogne by bottle this holiday season? I’ve got a few reasons…
To discover a new destination
While it may be anxiety inducing to physically travel to another country, travelling by bottle is far less stressful. And Bourgogne (sometimes called Burgundy in English) is a beautiful place to visit, no matter what the method of transportation. Located 2 hours south of Paris and 1 hour north of Lyon, the Bourgogne region spans approximately 230 kilometres from north to south. Filled with many must see destinations for both wine and travel lovers alike, Bourgogne is a sprawling tapestry of artistic architecture, history filled museums, picturesque countryside, and, of course, verdant vineyards that produce incredible wine.
With the continent above, the Mediterranean below and the Ocean just over, this heady mix of influences and identities rises from the ground to the grapes to give the wines of Bourgogne their unique charm and character. The region produces nearly 200 million bottles of wine every year, and has been making wine for 2,000 years. The Romans brought vines to the newly conquered region of Gaul, now known as Bourgogne. After the fall of the Roman empire, the mantle of winemaking was taken up by monks from the orders of Cîteaux and Cluny. Their work through the Middle Ages built the foundation for the quality, the variety, and the reputation of wine from Bourgogne. By the 15th century the Dukes of Bourgogne made their wines renowned across Europe, a reputation that is maintained to this day.
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To learn about the region through its wine
The 20th Century marked the creation of the first Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée in Bourgogne. An appellation is a specific, legally defined geographical marker used to identify where the grapes for a wine were grown. Bourgogne, and Mâcon are both appellations, meaning that only wine made from grapes grown in those specific regions may carry their name. These appellations are important because they mark specificities of the area, from the soil, the grapes, altitude, exposure, winemaking method, and more; all things that make these wines unique and deserving of distinction.
Wines from both Bourgogne and Mâcon appellations can also be more specific when identified by a geographical denomination. Those appellations plus a geographical denomination produce wines from even more specific areas within those regions and have their own unique and desirable characteristics and can take us further along our wine journey. Regions like Bourgogne Côte d’Auxerre, Bourgogne Côte d’Or, Mâcon-Lugny, Mâcon-Bussières, these are all appellations plus geographical denominations. All that is to say, there are many different and lovely wines that come out of many parts of Bourgogne. And the best way to learn about how that works is, of course, to taste.
Which brings us to…
To taste the Wine itself, of course
Bourgogne is famous for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grape varieties. I recently had the pleasure of trying two wines from the region.
Albert Bichot, Bourgogne Côte d’Or, Secret de Famille (Pinot Noir)
This beautiful Pinot Noir comes from the Bourgogne appellation, more specifically from Côte d’Or. Located in the heart of Bourgogne, Côte d’Or has gained a reputation for producing incredible wines. It’s that reputation that earned its use of that geographical designation, along with the beautiful blend of carefully sourced grapes, to create the haute couture of wine.
As a red wine lover, I may have fallen in love with this wine. With hints of berry and tangy currant flavours, this wine is lovely to sip on its own and makes an even lovelier companion to a meal. It’s easy drinking, a perfect wine for an evening in when you wish you could be out. I may or may not be sipping it as I type these very words, dreaming of walking through a beautiful wine country village with every taste.
Joseph Drouhin Mâcon-Bussières Les Clos
To return to our lesson on appellations and geographical designations, this white wine comes from the village of Bussières, in the Mâconnais region of Bourgogne. Its name shares another layer of this wine’s history: “Les Clos” describes the walled vineyards that kept the grapes protected from predators and the elements so they could grow to their full potential.
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From the first sip of this wine made from Chardonnay, the word that popped into my head was lively. Bright, crisp, with a tangy finish. It brought to mind memories of sunny spring days, and made me crave a salad full of bright flavours and fresh, crispy textures.
Two beautiful wines from a beautiful far away place, it’s truly like taking a vacation in a glass. I’ll definitely have to save up to travel to France when the pandemic is over, but I won’t have to do the same to drink these wines because…
Wines from Bourgogne are more affordable than you think
Yes, of course buying a bottle of wine is more affordable than hopping on a plane, but the price of that bottle from Bourgogne may surprise you! Some may be under the impression that wine from places like Bourgogne is expensive and out of reach, but in fact it can be just the opposite. Wines from Bourgogne can come in at remarkably accessible pricing, and the quality you can enjoy at these price points increase that value immensely. That’s because the same attention to detail and tried and tested knowledge that comes from literal millennia of making wine goes into every bottle from Bourgogne, no matter what the price point. In fact, the wines I mentioned above can both be purchased in Canada for less than $30 per bottle!
The Albert Bichot, Bourgogne Côte d’Or, Secret de Famille (Pinot Noir) can be purchased at the LCBO in Ontario for $28.95. And the Joseph Drouhin Mâcon-Bussières Les Clos 2018 is only $24.95! You can purchase both of these wines online from the LCBO here and here.
So this holiday season, why not stay home, stay safe, and travel to beautiful Bourgogne in a bottle. And as always, please enjoy your wine deeply and responsibly. Happy holidays and cheers to Bourgogne!
*This post is a paid partnership with Bourgogne Wines.